The Upside of Dysfunction!


Maybe dysfunction isn’t the white elephant in the room after all. Maybe, just maybe, it’s a not the horrible thing you think it is. Dysfunction is not a factory defect. Nor is it an incurable disease. But until dysfunction is understood, it will continue to disrupt order and stability.

I didn’t want people to see my frailties. I thought, if people really knew my weaknesses, they would abandon me. Fear of the fraud label paralyzed me. The decision to hide turned me into a judge. I hid because I judged myself unworthy. Judges judge. Entertaining myself with the imperfections of others is a diversion designed to protect me. If I can direct your attention elsewhere, you won’t see me, right?

How could I ever liberate my best self with part of me locked in the basement?

Disapproval can be painful enough to make an honest man lie. Who wants to be ostracized and denied affirmation? To be singled out, for even the most insignificant shortcoming, is the kind of discomfort I like to avoid. So, I opted for perfectionism. A practice that works every time– as long as you don’t stay in one place very long, and you don’t mind being unhappy. The language of dysfunction is destructive and separating. It doesn’t lend itself to acquiring wholeness. Peace of mind doesn’t follow perfection — it precedes it.

If my only hope to control criticism, is to remain underground, I’m hopeless. The energy I use to survive is the same energy I need to thrive. And I only have so much energy, to go around. I had to make a another decision. In order for me to celebrate my life I had to be willing to stop tolerating it. Hiding never set me free and it never will.

peaceof mind monkey
by bonify

Attitude affects outcome and I had a wrong attitude about my dysfunction. I tried to ignore it, silence it, and deny its existence. I saw it as my enemy. It threatened my peace, my joy, and my contentment. I put the good parts of me on display, wanting that to be enough, for inclusion and acceptance. My gifts and talents could get attention, but that didn’t put to rest, the parts of me that needed attention. I excelled, I achieved, and I hid…

This caused inner havoc, a manufactured reality, synthetic at best. But authenticity crouched in my extremities. It screamed in a demanding whisper, “Let me out!”  It squirmed, kicked, and refused to be silenced. It beckoned for me to give the world a chance. “Let the world see the real you,” it howled.

Did I dare think that every piece of me mattered?

The conflict of disharmony raged within. The battle oozed out of my pours. I couldn’t form a complete identity. I knew my fault line, my limitations, and my perceived handicaps. I knew my strengths, abilities, and drive. But I failed to realize authenticity’s’ friendship because I granted dysfunction top billing. I didn’t like it. In fact, I hated it. It occupied me. I became bitter toward myself.  Ah, but the story doesn’t end there.


When I pause, embrace stillness, and allow the Light to do its magic, I understand the power of being real.
Dysfunction is not my disqualifier. It’s not my humiliator. It’s not my house of shame. Dysfunction is my birthright, my distinctive DNA. It is my ticket to the dance. It has a purpose. It’s a classroom, a lesson outline, and a teacher all-in-one. Dysfunction is a mentor of what is good and bad, what works and doesn’t work, and what I should keep and what I should throw away.

Dysfunction has no design of mastery within it, and can only rule by default.  It proclaims it has power to permanently disable, render a life destitute, and that its damage is irreparable. But I have always been suspect of its veracity. Dysfunction bites until you bite back.

It appears that dysfunction is related to growing pains.

My daughter cried, “Daddy, my legs hurt.” I messaged them in the middle of the night. It is her muscles that ache. According to, there’s no medical evidence that bone growth causes pain, and joints are not generally affected. Most likely, her discomfort was brought on from running, jumping, climbing, and playing. Just normal pain from normal living. There’s no cause for alarm, no actual medical condition, unless the pain is the result of natural growth not occurring. That would be cause for great concern. Her bones (structure) and her joints (mobility) are intact. Her discomfort will pass and she can continue to participate in life.

The parallel between the tangible and intangible is eye opening to me.

A bit of rejection, betrayal, and misunderstanding occurs holistically. Just everyday pain from everyday life. A little maturity, wisdom, and time and I’m back in the game. No need for intervention. It’s the beefier stuff; the violations, the molestations, the abuses, the manipulations, and the intimidations that enter like viruses. Without immediate remedy, which seems to rarely happen, natural growth is stunted and dysfunction is born. The earlier emotional trauma happens the greater the dysfunction manifests later in life. Left unattended, it assumes a pseudo identity.

My fictitious persona and arrested development blocked the emergence of my authentic self. My family of origin, my extended family, and my earliest social networks contributed heavily to my lack of well-being. And I have lived in competition with my dysfunction.  Once I knew that my authentic self was trapped inside me, I set him free. I took dysfunction from a calling card to an ingredient. What happened to me…didn’t have to remain dominant…in me.

I  got introduced to dysfunction through the dysfunction of other people. We all do. What I experienced, and what I’m familiar with, became accepted as normal. Common (what is) and normal (what should be) are sometimes two ships passing in the night. Not every family trait is a keeper. Some life experiences taught me what I don’t want in my life. Whether it’s bad blood, or bad love, I have to deal with inconvenient truths.

Dysfunction became certain when I misinterpreted life events. The negative energy from wrong thinking created a limp in my gait. I had to choose to break or wake. There isn’t anyone to give me the life that only I can create for myself. Once I determined the nature of my dysfunction my instinct spoke to my value. And value never changes. Dysfunction doesn’t address who you are it only addresses what you’re doing. When I aligned with my value my dysfunction became an obedient child.


Dysfunction isn’t my failure—it’s one of many instructors. It has awakened me and showed me a better way. I put dysfunction in it’s place. I rewrote my story to reflect my value. I moved from competition to completion. The cataracts have fallen and I have vision. I have cleared my throat and found my voice. I’m upright, whole, healthy and happy. I’ve taken what weakened me, brought me to my knees, and scattered me to the winds; and I re-purposed it all. I found out dysfunction has a shelf-life and expires when I finish with it.

The upside of dysfunction is when you make it work for you!!! 


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  1. PREACH!! I’m personally finding my purpose in my dysFUNction. Novel idea, right? Or maybe, just maybe, I agreed to this before I ever showed up…

    Anyway, been finding a lot of peace and forgiveness (for myself and others) just entertaining this idea…

  2. Wow! This is amazing. Powerful words that really spoke to me. It is wonderful that no matter the dysfunction, it does not have to be a life sentence.